The Lost Sheep – Joel McNelly
Scripture: Luke 15:1-7
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
There is clear and prevailing advice for hikers and hunters, that if you are lost in the wilderness, you stay where you are and allow yourself to be found. Wandering makes it more difficult to be found, but staying put and signaling for help significantly increases your chances of being found. Seeking God is the same way. When we wander, we wonder where He is, when all along He is actively looking for us. When we stop trying to rescue ourselves, we can allow ourselves to be rescued by the only one who can truly rescue us from ourselves.
This story starts off with Jesus hanging out with “tax collector and sinners.” There is no right standing that we can achieve on our own that makes us worthy to be with Jesus. He meets us exactly where we are when we are willing to be found. The beautiful thing about this is that once you are found and established in Jesus’ flock, he can then leave you “in the open country” while he goes off to find the one who is lost. But first, you must be found by him yourself. This is a labor of love for Jesus. He calls those who have been found to rejoice WITH HIM when he finds each one. It brings Christ the utmost joy to rescue us.
God’s love for you is so strong that he chases after you. He is actively seeking you! Whether you are allowing yourself to hang out with Him or you are running, there is nothing you can do to make yourself worthy of his love. He just loves you and wants to find you so that you can be with him and led be Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Your only response is to stop and submit to being found.
If you have wandered, call out to Jesus. He is actively looking for you. Don’t run! Stay put and signal to Christ that you want to be found and He will find you and rescue you.
If you count yourself among those who have been found, then live for Him in “the open country,” join the search party by praying for the lost and seeking out ways to share the redemption found in Christ with them. And be ready to rejoice when the one is found. It is His greatest joy that we get to share in.
Christ our Shepherd,
Thank you that you desire me so much that you welcome me into your flock. Please forgive my tendency to run from you, thinking that I can find the way myself. Today, I submit and ask you to find me and rescue me from my own wandering. Pick me up Jesus, take me upon your shoulder, and bring me back to the place where you can lead me and care for me in the good pastures that you desire me to be in.
Amen (I’m in!)